Friday 22 September 2017

Despite Enda's stated preference Easter 2016 not yet definite

ISLAND LIFE: Sergeant Val Murray assists Presiding Officer Carmel McBride with the ballot box for the island of Inishbofin on the west coast in 2014
ISLAND LIFE: Sergeant Val Murray assists Presiding Officer Carmel McBride with the ballot box for the island of Inishbofin on the west coast in 2014

John Drennan

Engagements are all well and good, but any heroine from a Jane Austen novel will tell you an advantageous marriage is really only secured when the date is printed in the national press.

But, like the sort of wedding where the bride's panic increases exponentially as we get near the day, suddenly everything is a lot more uncertain.

This was evidenced earlier last year when Simon Coveney noted that the Fine Gael election manifesto would only have to be updated if an election was called in the morning.

Micheal Martin swiftly entered into the fray, as he warned Fine Gael is preparing to call a surprise election without consulting their Labour Coalition partners, as early as May.

Mr Martin may have been gilding the lily a little but he was certainly right in his analysis that Labour were in danger of ''being caught on the back foot'' and that when it comes to Labour and the next election, FG will prioritise themselves first.

So what are the most likely dates?

A PRE SUMMER GAMBLE

FOR: If a long period, say three months, of good governance is followed by equally good polls the Coalition might decide to catch the opposition on the hop by calling a snap election before they finalize their own election plans.

AGAINST: Outside of the not inconsiderable problem that they won't catch the opposition on the hop, where lies the gain for the Coalition in throwing away six months of good news? The Rainbow learned the hard way in 1997 that premature political prognostication really can be bad for your health.

A POST SUMMER AMBUSH

FOR: The less we see them the more we like them. Coalition support would be at its highest after the summer whilst their opponents will be sleepy and slow after the holidays.

AGAINST: Once again the economy stupid; or to put it another way no-one sells shares in a bull-market. A pre-budget election will also generate suspicion that bad news is just around the corner.

WAR IN THE WINTER

FOR: A December or January election fought on a give-away budget has potential. In this regard the Coalition will note however that the voters only began to warm to Budget 2015 in January. And they're still not too hot about it yet.

AGAINST: Everyone, particularly the voters, hates winter elections. And a cantankerous electorate are far less likely to vote for the government.

ENDA IN 1916

FOR: The budget cuts will really have kicked in while Enda will be able to drape the mantle of 1916 around him. Should Sinn Fein be the challengers there will be no shortage of comparisons between Pearse and Gerry on many fronts.

AGAINST: The plan had better be working for if the Coalition hits a run of bad form or the world economy turns sour there is no plan B.

MOST LIKELY SCENARIO

All things being considered, equally the cautious conservatism of Enda means Easter 2016 is the most likely date. However, if the Coalition figures look good just after the budget or even the summer expect plenty of turbulence and uncertainty around those periods too.

Those, who prefer if canvassing doesn't resemble an episode of Deadliest Catch, will be praying that there will be no surprise winter vote.

Before anyone gets too comfortable though, beware, beware for, if 'Dear Leader' Enda gets a series of polls in the 30pc mark he'll be out the door faster than Labour can say 'Beg your pardon, where are you going Enda!'

Sunday Independent

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